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Rejuvenate yourself with aromatherapy

Spa stores all over the country are cashing in on the mass craze for the therapy. Uma Nair takes a look.

india Updated: Feb 13, 2006 14:05 IST

Spa stores all over the country seem to be zooming in on the aftermath of aromatherapy.Aim: To provide a feeling of well being in a matter of 60 minutes.

At the Usha Kiron Palace in Gwalior, aromatherapy massages are being preferred over Ayurveda. "Our aromatherapy massages are getting more takers", says the young attendant who works on her customers with nimble fingers."I think it is because they have little time and they want quick results", says Miriam Mathew who virtually began the city spa culture in India when she set up film star Sanjay Khan's spa,and then went on to set up ITC spas all over the country, alongwith Asian Roots at Delhi.

"Massage is an integral part of the aromatherapy process", says Miriam who co-ordinates the spas at Grand Central and Grand Maratha at Mumbai ."It allows a soothing and therapeutic application of essential oils to heal and rejuvenate the body".

"In India all the oils are being produced indigenously,and the spa market has created  its own domestic demand for the various oils. Aromatherapy bath oils and bath salts can make for an exhilarating experience", says says Miriam Mathew who virtually began the city spa culture in India when she set up film star Sanjay Khan's spa.

"It has become very popular because of the instant sense of rejuvenation that it gives", claims Miriam. Swedish tourist Nadine Klugh staying at Grand Maratha, has just finished an aromatherapy session and she is basking in the sense of wellbeing in the steam room. "I think that the best thing about this massage is that it can work as a stimulant as well as a relaxant", says Nadine.

Her experience was after she had a Thai Massage. "Blending essential oils and massaging them into your body works on the olfactory nerves as well as the limbic system", says Miriam who tells her customers what they should undergo depending on what their needs are".

"Aromatherapy skin care products are being increasingly used for their beneficial properties", says Miriam.

"In India all the oils are being produced indigenously,and the spa market has created its own domestic demand for the various oils. Aromatherapy bath oils and bath salts can make for an exhilarating experience".

Aromatherapy has two components, massage and aroma; and according to Miriam, they are rarely evaluated separately. "While more is known about massage, the combination may be more than the sum of their individual parts", she says.

"Aromatherapy oils seem to affect the body's chemical messengers and people actually remember that instant first memory", says Miriam that is why it is catching up. Miriam claims that the oils possess many different functions, including being antibacterial, antifungal and antiseptic". "During aromatherapy, the oils work on two levels", she says.

"First, they penetrate the skin and, second, they work their way into the body through the sense of smell. The latter scent function is particularly powerful. Scientific studies have indicated that smell causes more activity in areas of the brain dealing with emotional responses,and that is why we feel good".


"Herbal oils are used in permutations and combinations", adds Miriam. For weekly, hour-long massages, Miriam uses camomile, clary sage and cyprus essence, a powerful astringent said to have anti-spasmodic properties. She also experiments with other oils, adding lavender, known for calming properties; frankincense, which deepens breathing; geranium, juniper, marjoram, sandalwood, ylang ylang and vetiver; until she finds the optimum combination.

Aromatherapy also prompts people to adopt a healthier lifestyle other than the feel of bliss. It helps to de-stress and "set oneself up" for the week. "We change the combination of oils according to how customers feel: whether hyperactive or under the weather," says Miriam.

Even to believers, aromatherapy is often seen as having little more restorative power than hot baths. The effects are put down to the pleasurable sensations. "There is a direct link between going to a massage session in aromatherapy and feeling better," says Nadine. Judging by the bookings at spas in Mumbai, Kolkata,Bangalore ,Delhi and Chennai ,aromatherapy is assailing the senses.

First Published: Feb 13, 2006 13:43 IST